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John Black Johnston papers

Identifier: ua-00737

Scope and Content

The collection contains published articles and manuscripts written by John Johnston. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters from C. Judson Herrick, editor of the Journal of Comparative Neurology. Also in the collection are lectures and laboratory outlines, clippings and speeches given by Professor Johnston on neurology and education. Photographs and drawings used in articles and books on neurology are also contained in the collection.


  • 1892-1937


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of John Black Johnston (1868-1939)

John Black Johnston was born in Belle Center, Ohio on October 3, 1868. He earned his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1893 and 1899, respectively. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Professor Johnston was an instructor in biology at the University of Michigan (1893-1899) and head of zoology at the University of West Virginia (1899-1907). From 1904-1905, Professor Johnston took a sabbatical from the University of West Virginia to study at the Naples Zoological Station. His time in Italy led to the publication of the influential book The Nervous System of Vertebrates, in which Professor Johnston outlines the organization of the nervous system.

In 1907, Professor Johnston joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota as assistant professor of anatomy of the nervous system. He became assistant professor of comparative anatomy in 1908 and professor in 1909. In 1914, he was appointed Dean of the College of Science, Literature and the Arts (now the College of Liberal Arts). His greatest influence as Dean was to lay the foundation for college admission standards by studying the correlation between success in high school and performance on college aptitude exams with success in college. He also instituted freshman orientation and honors courses. He remained Dean until his retirement in 1937, at the age of 69.

Professor Johnston was a member of various professional organizations, including Sigma Xi, American Society of Naturalists, American Society of Zoologists, American Eugenics Society, American Association of Anatomists, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chairman of the Committee on Educational Testing of the American Council on Education. In addition, he was an associate editor for the Journal of Comparative Neurology. Professor Johnston passed away on November 19, 1939. In 1951, the University of Minnesota honored Professor Johnston by naming the new building housing the College of Science, Literature and the Arts Johnston Hall.


2.3 Cubic Feet (5 boxes (1 record carton; 3 hollinger; 1 oversize))


Collection contains the papers of John Johnston, professor of comparative neurology and Dean of the College of Science, Literature and the Arts at the University of Minnesota.

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John Black Johnston papers, 1892-1937
Karen Spilman
January 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

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